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Disrupting borders in a village: Xarkis Festival 2019

(Photo: Emma Louise Charalambous)

“Boundaries and conceptual borders that are set – exist to be broken,” says Christina Skarpari, founder of Xarkis Festival. In this year’s festival, on August 16,17 and 18, the organisers hope to question, disrupt and re-evaluate the theme of ‘borders’ through a series of international cultural experiences, amid a backdrop of a Cypriot rural landscape and way of life.

Just like every year, Xarkis Festival will take place in a village and this August it’s moving to Polystipos  in the Nicosia district. Just picture stopping by the kafeneio to ask for directions and attending workshops in people’s house. Xarkis is a great way into the island’s rural life and a tool to interact with local heritage.

“We find that many villages of Cyprus, alongside the lifestyle that comes with those, are in a sense, forgotten. One key factor is the effects of urbanisation, which have taken a toll on these communities. Engaging people from cities and villages, revitalising the countryside and ‘passing on’ some positive values, customs and rituals, from generation to generation are the sourdoughs of our festivals,” says Christina as to why they always choose to hold Xarkis in villages.

Xarkis’ location changes every two years.

(Photo: Emma Louise Charalambous)

There’s lot to expect this year with the  programme including an experimental music fiesta (the ziafettin), hands-on creative workshops, a range of  intimate, participatory performances in central points of the village, neo-traditional games, walks, an exhibition, screenings, artists’ installations, a picnic, women’s coffee shop, an evening concert with musicians from Cyprus and abroad and more.

Choosing an activity that stands out is nearly impossible for Christina but she says that one of the key activities includes “the experimental ziafettin, which is a fiesta inspired by the Cypriot glentia [parties]. It is one of the babies that we’re very proud of, because of its uniqueness and the fact that musicians from different musical traditions cross-fertilise  together in an improvised, collective celebration.”

There’s something for all tastes and ages, and one thing is certain: attending the festival’s activities offers a gateway into experiencing the village. Workshops will take place in houses, exhibitions will happen in warehouses, screenings in kitchens and living rooms, concerts in the football field and performances will be spread around balconies, terraces and narrow alleyways.

So, regardless of age, educational, professional background, national background and personal beliefs Xarkis Festival is open to all and aims to make everyone welcome. What’s more, is that for the variety of the activities planned and for a three-day programme, Xarkis is one of the cheapest festivals you’ll find. There’s a €15 entrance fee for all days and if you don’t want to come and go, look into renting an agro-tourist house or set up camp at the village. Shower and toilet facilities will be provided.

The Festival has even crafted a Welcome Pack with all you need to know about how to get there, where to park, what food will be available, emergency numbers and so on. Find it on the festival’s website (

Xarkis Festival 2019

7th consecutive cultural Xarkis Festival showcasing the results of its Artists’ Residency program alongside a series of additional activities over the course of three days. August 16-18. Polystypos village, Nicosia. 6pm-11pm. €15. Tel: 97-676011. Find the full programme here:

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